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Turning the Tables on Dinnertime


The Inside Track can’t help but give a shout-out this week to leader Grace Freedman, who over the past several days has made waves in social media circles for several of her efforts.

Freedman runs, a website dedicated to helping families prioritize sharing a family meal together most days of the week. is also a nonprofit group, offering workshops and presentations to help time-stretched parents get their families together at the dining room table.

But Freedman is also looking at how societal changes could potentially support family dinnertime.

On March 30, the Huffington Post ran a piece she coauthored with Laurie David, the environmental activist and famous ex-wife of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star Larry David, arguing that the family dinner is an important part of fighting childhood obesity — and having policies that support it are helpful.

"Family dinner is not always easy to accomplish night after night, but the benefits to families and to society are worth the effort," the duo write. "Parents could definitely benefit from improved nutritional information on packaging, from social and tax policies that support the purchase of healthy food, and from more flexible workplace policies to allow parents to get home by dinner hour."

This week, Freedman launched her "Family Dinner Survey," designed to find out how often families eat dinner together, and whether obstacles such as the cost of food or late school and work hours play a role in preventing families from gathering together at the table. The survey is available on her website, and being offered at community workshops in New York and around the country.

The inspiration for Freedman’s work comes from her own family. A few years back, Freedman found that she, her husband and three kids (now ages 15, 12 and 5) had a challenging time scheduling a shared meal each night. So mom and dad put their foot down, and decided that no matter what got in their way, the family would have dinner together every night.

And they kept at it, making it part of the foundation of their family’s routine.

"It’s a daily check-in, where you can bring up issues, they can bring up issues," Freedman tells The Inside Track. "There’s something about that routine that I think is comforting."